Political will needed to address Africa’s water and energy challenges

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The three-day workshop to discuss mainstreaming and implementing the water-energy nexus for sustainable development in Africa closed in Addis Ababa on Thursday, September 6, with participants calling for more political will from the continent’s leaders to address Africa’s water and energy challenges.

In particular, the over 100 participants, including officials and practitioners from the continent’s water and energy sectors, underlined the need for regional blocks, countries and communities to develop innovative financing mechanisms in partnership with global and local partners to address water and energy problems in Africa.

Governments, they agreed, need to incorporate supportive policies for private businesses and self-initiated local communities for water loans and innovative financing to alleviate problems on the ground.

Participants noted the misalignment of national policies with the sustainable development goals, lack of regional data collection, sharing and analysis as part of the reasons the continent was failing to holistically address its water and energy deficits.

They emphasised that regional and national policy and legislation should be harmonized and coordinated in the implementation of water and energy nexus.

“It is recommended that countries and regional blocks start taking action in harmonizing policy and legislations for smooth process of water and energy implementation in the continent,” they said in their end of workshop communiqué.

The importance of developing enforcement mechanism at regional and national level was also emphasised.

Continuous and targeted capacity building, they agreed, was needed to mainstream and implement the nexus approach for effective water and energy development in the continent.

Participants also said the water and energy nexus needs to be viewed as an entry point to trigger SDG achievement.

The workshop underlined the importance of mainstreaming the SDGs and targets into national plans and develop monitoring mechanism. Some African countries have started mainstreaming processes while some have begun to implement the nexus approach. The process of mainstreaming the SDGs, the participants said, also needs to be supported.

“Partnership and building alliances need to be enhanced and communication platforms established for knowledge and experience sharing, leverage resources, best practices, shared data collection and management,” read the communique, adding the water and energy nexus also needs to incorporate the food, gender, climate, poverty, education and health in implementing the water and energy nexus approach and the SDGs.

Participants underlined water and energy access was a dream for many in rural Africa, adding the continent needs to cease the opportunity of the targets of Agenda 2030 and the nexus approach to address these challenges.

In discussions on the status of water and energy in Africa, the workshop lamented the data and information scarcity on the continent which they said undermined evidence/knowledge-based policy making.

The lack of geopolitical dialogue and cross boundary resources development and management, they said, also undermined regional harmonization of policies and implementation strategies.

Organised by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development, UNOSD, the Economic Commission for Africa, ECA, UN Environment, the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, UN DESA, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the meeting also discussed Africa’s water and energy targets and indicators, including cross-sectoral mainstreaming, the challenges related to the water-energy nexus and possible solutions, and other related issues as the continent seeks to achieve the SDGs.

– Sept. 7, 2018 @ 14:35 GMT

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